Placebos have a longer history than medicine as we know it, and have a huge effect on all kinds of diseases and health conditions. But it may now be time to rethink their role.
The placebo made its debut in the medical literature some 200 years ago, although the administration of inert agents in medical practice has a considerably longer history. In fact, such practice is probably as old as medicine itself.
Placebos took on a more studied role with the increasing application of the scientific method to health care that really took off around the middle of the last century. In this context, placebo interventions have been used as a control to test the efficacy of certain treatments.